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Paige VanZant explains decision to move back to Portland, ‘start over’ with a new gym

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UFC on FOX 22 Open Workout Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Paige VanZant hasn’t done much media since her last UFC fight, a tough loss to Michelle Waterson in December, but that doesn’t mean she’s not gearing up already for her return to the Octagon.

In fact, “12 Gauge” plans on showing a different fighter whenever she get back in action.

"It was a really tough loss, it was really hard on me, but, actually, for the most part, I’m getting used to training with a new fight camp,” VanZant told MMA Fighting. "I moved back to Portland, Oregon, to be with family, so I guess I’m taking some time to adjust to a new fight team and a new gym for my upcoming fight.”

VanZant was coming off a devastating knockout victory over Bec Rawlings prior to her defeat to Waterson, but explains that her decision to move closer to her family was already made prior to UFC on FOX 22.

"I was just kind of planning it already,” VanZant said. "My whole family is from Portland, I just always had it on my mind that I wanted to be back around family, and it was just a perfect time for me to start over and train with a new camp and be around a huge support and finally have family in my life again."

Back to Portland, VanZant is now training alongside Bellator star Chael Sonnen and working with his jiu-jitsu coach Fabiano “Pega-Leve” Scherner.

"Me and Chael Sonnen have the same management team. I’ve been friends with Chael for a while,” VanZant said. "I knew he was in Portland and he had a really successful fight team out in Portland. I just called him and he really took me under his wing, he set me up with a great MMA gym, which is Gracie Barra with Fabiano, and he also set me up with an amazing conditioning program, Dave. Chael really took me under his wing and set me up with everything I needed.

"I definitely do (feel a better fighter). I can see myself growing. Training with Fabiano, he has some of the best jiu-jitsu I've ever had in my life, so I can definitely see the difference in my fight game because of him. I can already tell I’m getting a lot better. It’s really cool to be working with someone so positive and so talented like he is.”

Given that both of her UFC losses came by way of submission, to Waterson and Rose Namajunas, VanZant believes that working with Scherner will take her jiu-jitsu to another level.

"I knew I had aspects of my fight game that I needed to work on,” VanZant said. "With every fight I try to earn from my mistakes, and even in my wins I try to learn from the areas that I messed up on.”

VanZant’s next UFC fight is still up in the air, but the 23-year-old fighter is already discussing it with the company.

"I'll be in the cage soon,” VanZant said, "I'm talking to the UFC right now about getting me back in the cage. I'm definitely looking at various offers."

As for the opponent, “12 Gauge", who currently sits at No. 11 in the official UFC strawweight ranking, hopes to face someone above her to get back in the top 10.

"It's really up to the UFC,” VanZant said. "I would like it to be in the top 10 if there's people available. So you know, we'll see it's just whoever doesn't have a fight, whoever's ready at the same time, or whoever the UFC gives me."